Epiphany Activities

Bless Your House

It has long been a tradition to do a house blessing on Epiphany because on entering the house the Kings were blessed by finding Jesus.  Feel free to make up your own house blessing, with holy water, salt, sage, whatever you feel right with. The important thing is the prayer.  When saying your prayer be authentic.  I tend to free form mine, meaning I’m not saying something from memory but rather speaking from my heart.

If you want to do this Traditionally, with the capital T, with the traditional prayers, and everything, you will need a piece of chalk, holy water, and frankincense and myrrh incense.  This piece of chalk you can save from year to year.

First you bless the chalk with the prayer:

Bless, O Lord God, this chalk to render it helpful to men. Grant that they who use it in faith and with it inscribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of thy saints, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health of body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then you enter the house saying:

Peace be to this house, and to all who dwell herein. From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord. 

Then sprinkle holy water and spread the smoke of incense (frankincense and myrrh), praying:

My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.  He looks on his servant in her lowliness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed.  The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy is his name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him. He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted. He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy, the mercy promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his sons forever.

O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee—Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.

Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then go room to room with sprinkling water and spreading incense praying:

And may this blessing remain upon this room and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Once the room has been blessed you mark the door with the blessed chalk with crosses the initials of the Three Magi (Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar) and the year:

20 + C+ M + B + 18

Which incidentally are also the initials of the phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat which means Christ bless this house.

End by praying the Lord’s Prayer and marking the front door.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


Eat King Cake

 King cake is a cake made throughout Carnevale which starts on Epiphany.  King cake takes many different forms from simple cakes made with orange to elaborate rings of like cinnamon rolls filled with cinnamon, raisins and nuts, yet they all have two things in common.

The first thing they have in common are the colors they are decorated with.  Now the colors of Carnevale are purple, green and gold.  The purple is for royalty of Christ the King.  It also represents the contemplative quality that underlies the season – yes, you are supposed to be thinking about your life at this time.  The second color is green.  Green is the color of life not just this one but the one to come.  The third color is gold for Divinity of Jesus.

The second thing they all have in common is the most significant, a little baby Jesus, the king, hiding inside.  Even while eating cake we search for the baby Jesus as the Three Magi did.  As we all should keep doing each day.

A recipe for King Cake is in the Epiphany Recipes post.


La Befana

In Italy instead of having Santa Claus, they have La Befana.  La Befana does not come on Christmas but on Epiphany.  Unlike Santa Claus you do not leave milk and cookies out for La Befana, but wine and cheese.  Also unlike Santa Claus, there is no coal for the naughty children.  La Befana only leaves good presents.  Another tradition with La Befana is you put little wads of paper on the floor, because La Befana cannot leave a mess.  If the paper has been swept up with her broom, they know that La Befana had come.  Why does she come to visit the children?  I’ll tell you the story.

La Befana was an old lady that lived outside of a small town in Italy.  The Wise Men were following the star to find the baby Jesus and asked if they could sleep there during the day.  She said they could and when they left that evening, they asked if she would come with them.  She declined saying she had too much cleaning to do.  They left and as she was sweeping up the front porch she saw the star.  Realizing what a mistake she’d made, she quickly grabbed a toy that she had as a child and some fresh baked cookies and ran after the Wise Men.  She was in such a hurry she didn’t even realize she still had her broom in her hand.  She ran and ran and suddenly she began to fly!  She flew on her broom following the star.

When she arrived at Bethlehem, she found that the Wise Men and the Christ child had already left.  She searched and searched flying all over the world.  When she finally found Him, she gave him the gifts.  He thanked her for them.  She told him that she had searched and searched for him.  He asked her why.  She told him so that she could see Him and do something nice for Him.  He smiled and said that He lives in everyone, so if she wants to do something nice for Him she should instead do something nice for all the children.  So she rides her broom on Epiphany and delivers goodies to all the children – the Children of God.

Peace be with you.

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